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What About Weather Triggers Migraine Attacks?

News articles and information sources brush “weather” as a migraine trigger with a maddeningly broad stroke. What, exactly, about weather triggers migraines? “Very high temperature, very low temperature, high humidity, low humidity, and barometric pressure change” are the weather features that trigger attacks, according to Cleveland Clinic headache specialist Dr. Stuart Tepper. Great, even the specifics are annoyingly broad!

The Arizona monsoon season, which produces frequent thunderstorms from July to mid-September, was a big concern when we decided to move back to Phoenix. In my ideal world, I’d spend July and August soaking up the glory of Seattle summers, but that’s not exactly in the budget now that we’ve started our own business. Fortunately, both last summer and this year wonderful people have offered me places to stay, either as a guest or house sitter.

Figuring out where to go based on weather factors is proving quite difficult. Clouds and rain are the most obvious weather markers connected to my migraine attacks, but it seems unlikely that clouds themselves are the trigger. It is more plausible that barometric pressure is at fault, but, even though WeatherSpark provides terrific graphical data, I haven’t been able to correlate attacks with either high or low pressure or changes in pressure. Also, the headache specialist I saw in Boston told me that if barometric pressure were the issue, flying would trigger migraine attacks for me, which it doesn’t.

Do I go to the town with steady barometric pressure but high cloud cover? Or the city that has a short cloud cover each afternoon? What about the place that is windy? I can’t decide. For now, I’ll continue to input cities and towns into WeatherSpark and compare the variables. I’m tempted to wait it out in Phoenix this year so I can see how monsoon season really affects me, if it does at all. At least I wouldn’t have to be apart from my husband for two months that way.

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Tips for Summer Fun Despite Migraine: Migraine Awareness Month Blogging Challenge

National Migraine Awareness Month Blog Challenge, Day 4: What’s the best tip you can offer others for having some summer fun despite migraine?

I wrote about staying hydrated, my very best tip for coping with migraines in the summer, for Migraine.com today. Then I went out in the Phoenix heat and remembered my second-best coping mechanism: ice packs and cool neck wraps.

If I have to drive somewhere in the heat of the day, I take along hard ice packs that normally go in the ice chest as well as a couple softer ice packs, like my beloved Medi-Temp Head-Neck Hot/Cold Therapy Pad*. I wrap the Medi-Temp pad around my neck twice and place the other ice packs wherever feels good, usually a couple behind my back, one in my cleavage (*blush*), and one under the seat belt against my belly. I look like a complete dork, but feel so much cooler. The hard packs usually stay cold even if I leave them in the car when I go into stores. On particularly hot days, I’ll put them in a soft-sided cooler before I get out of the car.

Cooling neck wraps are useful when I’m need to stay cool (temperature-wise) in public. More attractive than an ice pack, they still aren’t terribly stylish — but they are better than a migraine attack! Just soak one in water for about 10 minutes to activate it and it will keep you a little cooler for several hours. If you’re somewhere humid, it is best best if you can stick the wrap in an ice chest occasionally to reinvigorate it.

What do you do to keep migraine attacks at bay in the summer?

National Migraine Awareness Month is initiated by the National Headache Foundation. The Blogger’s Challenge is initiated by Fighting Headache Disorders.

*The Medi-Temp head wrap is a new discovery and I love, love, love it for migraine attacks. It has good coverage, stays cold for nearly an hour (I put a dish towel under it so it isn’t too cold against my skin), and stays in place when I move around. It is a quick, easy and inexpensive way to relieve the immediate pain of a migraine. I only wish I had two.